I like the way our sons have learned to pray since joining evangelical churches. Folded arms, learned within our family circle, have been replaced by joining hands. If the main purpose of folded arms for Mormon family prayers is to keep the kids from smacking each other, hand-holding takes this security measure a step further. Joining hands in prayer also gives a feeling of unity. Our daughter-in-law adds three gentle hand squeezes following the “amen”—signifying, “I love you.”
Our sons no longer use formal Mormon prayer language. Instead of the ritual, “Our Father in Heaven” and “In the name of Jesus Christ,” they speak as if they are talking to a person in the same room—not to a distant deity on a heavenly throne.
When our younger son was seeing his wife through a potentially dangerous childbirth, then dealing with her recovery, the newborn, their two-year-old, and a demanding job with a long commute—his prayers were brief: “God, we thank you for getting us through this day and pray for your continued help. Amen.” (Yes, I came to help their family, but the strain on him was still considerable).
Our elder son prefaces prayer by asking each member of the family who or what they want to pray for. Sometimes the answer from his young daughters includes a favorite toy or food.
Prayer is a unifying experience for a family. I’m glad our sons make meaningful prayer a daily occurrence in their homes.